Further to the post earlier in the week about why the FIA is looking to clamp down on the way engines blow exhaust gases over the diffuser even when the driver lifts off the throttle, it was interesting to hear Charlie Whiting’s view on it last night.
As we said earlier in the week the FIA thinks that this is the wrong kind of technology and sends out the wrong signals about the sport. That is an ideological question. Whiting’s grounds for actually challenging the way it works is to assert that it it breaks the rule about the driver activating something which affects the aerodynamics.
“An exhaust system is there for the purpose of exhausting gases from the engine, so when you are off throttle it is not doing that. Therefore driver movement is being used to influence the aerodynamic characteristics of the car,” he said.
“We were becoming increasingly concerned about the increase in extremes, shall we say. Then a bit of fuel, a bit of spark, retard, it was getting more and more extreme and that was the main reason for it.”
Whiting used the analogy of Renault’s mass damper of five years ago to say that these things have gone well beyond what they were originally intended to do and as with other ideas which have found their way into the sport and then gone down a tangent that the FIA feels is wrong, they want to rein it in.
F1 is all about pushing things to extremes, that is where the margin lies between winning and losing in the sport.
“These things start off little and start off appearing to be quite benign, ” said Whiting, “But then they get worse and worse and worse. And we are now faced with the possibility of even more extreme systems coming along, so we felt it was time to do something about it.
“Of course exhaust blowing is not new, it has been around for years, but I think Red Bull really took it to another plain with their low exhaust at the beginning of last year, and it became clearer and clearer through engine mapping that it was time to do something about it.”
So where does this leave us? Well clearly the teams are on alert that this avenue is going to be closed off imminently, even if it wasn’t implemented this weekend.
He said that the possibility existed of one of the teams without the technology, which I believe is the Cosworth powered teams, putting in a protest after the race, which could potentially disqualify most of the field and certainly all of the really fast teams.
This would be a little like Indianapolis 2005, where all the Michelin teams were forced into a position where they had to pull out of the race and only six cars ran. It makes the sport look stupid and is very hard to explain to the wider public. So I don’t think it’ll happen.
Will any teams heed the threat and disable the system and what does it take to do so?
I got the impression last night that they probably won’t, it is more aimed for the British Grand Prix onwards, but you never know. It will be interesting to follow. Any change must be made before qualifying starts as the cars are in parc ferme conditions from then on.
As for how you disable it, it’s quite simple; apparently the engineers probably wouldn’t need to remap to change the overrun throttle position, just select a different torque map.
But the cut in rear downforce will affect the way the car handles in the corners, of course, so there would be some work to be done this morning on set up to make sure of the balance, if teams were going to play it safe.
Whiting also said that the FIA is looking into the legality of Ferrari’s rear wing which he described as a very clever interpretation of rules regarding slot gaps, but possibly one which infringes those rules. We can expect more on this today.